The Kaveri (Cauvery) Delta of central Tamil Nadu was the heartland of the mighty Chola Dynasty, whose towering temples stand as south India’s defining monuments. One of the greatest of these giant shrines is Brihadeshwara in the town of Thanjavur (Tanjore) – a soaring pyramid of granite, exquisitely constructed and embellished with inscriptions and carvings of deities which look almost as fresh today as they must have during the reign of Rajaraja I (985–1014AD), who commissioned them.

Elsewhere in this bustling Tamil town, the impressive Durbar Hall of the Royal Palace Complex stands as a reminder of the glory days of the Nayak Kings of the 16th and 18th centuries, while in the same compound, the town’s Art Gallery holds an extraordinary collection of Chola bronzes.

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